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Federal government argues states cannot sue over school lunch changes Federal government argues states cannot sue over school lunch changes

Bronze medal Reporter Adv. John Posted 29 Aug 2019
Federal government argues states cannot sue over school lunch changes

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) submitted a court filing Monday arguing that states cannot sue over changes they claim make school lunches less healthy.

The memorandum of law was filed in response to a complaint by several states over changes to the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. The complaint alleges that a rule adopted in 2018 “loosened nutritional standards for sodium and whole grains in school meals previously adopted in 2012 … without proper notice and opportunity to comment on these modifications, and without adequate basis in research or guidelines allegedly required by statute.”

In its memorandum, the USDA claims that the states lack standing to bring this lawsuit. The memorandum starts by saying that even before the 2018 rule, “Congress repeatedly enacted legislation providing flexibilities for the sodium and whole grain requirements specified” in the previous rule. It then discusses two forms of standing that it argues the states do not have in this case: parens patriae standing and Constitutional standing.

In the memorandum, the USDA states that “[a] State does not have standing as parens patriae to bring an action against the Federal Government.” The USDA also states that the states “lack constitutional standing because they fail to allege an injury in fact to their proprietary interests, let alone one fairly traceable to the 2018 Rule.”

The memorandum was filed in order to support the USDA’s motion to dismiss the states’ complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

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